For the last few years, marketers have been struggling with how to use social media to drive engagement and business growth. As platforms (and their policies) continue to change at a breakneck pace, it can feel nearly impossible for social media managers to figure out the best way to grow their audiences, drive engagement, or convert leads.

Most social media folks try to maximize their company profiles through optimization, follower campaigns, and other paid tactics. However, branded company profiles have several limitations:

  1. You’re at the mercy of the platform. For example, last January, Facebook’s updated News Feed started showing only 1% of page fans posts from brands they had ‘Liked’. LinkedIn is a bit more generous with impressions, but one algorithm change can greatly reduce the number of people seeing your updates.
  2. It’s difficult to justify the costs. CPM (cost per thousand impressions) can cost between $5-10 depending on platform and placement, which isn’t always viable depending on the quality of the leads.
  3. Your messages don’t stand out. Feeds have become flooded with content (apparently Twitter has more than 500 million tweets sent out per day!). Plus, when people see a post is coming from a brand, they tend to tune it out and keep scrolling. Good luck getting noticed.

This makes my life managing social media at Apttus a lot more difficult. People typically sign up for social media platforms to do one of two things: digest content they’re interested in, and stay up-to-date with their friends and business contacts.

As a business you (hopefully) are sharing content your target audience is interested in. Now if only there was a way to get friends and business contacts to share your content without begging…

Enter social media advocacy.

Layer 1Cutting through the noise with social media advocacy

The voices of your customers and employees are a lot more trustworthy than social media posts from your company’s profile. People see their friends as trusted advisors when it comes to making purchase decisions.

In the B2B world, this is more critical than ever. The 2015 B2B Buyer’s Survey reports that peers and colleagues are one of the top three resources B2B tech buyers first look to when making a new purchase.

By focusing on fostering social media advocacy (aimed at targeting your customers’ peers), you can turn your social media marketing strategy into a word-of-mouth marketing machine that will impact your top-line revenue.

Layer 2Nurturing social media advocacy

At Apttus, we’re constantly looking for ways we can engage with our influencers, like the Salesforce MVPs. They have a strong voice amongst our target audience and they’re awesome people!

Before I can ask them to share my content or interact with me online, I need to give them something valuable first (and this is where we begin to turn influencers into advocates!). An advocate marketing program is an exclusive community that gives your top prospects, customers, and influencers helpful resources, networking opportunities, and the chance to spread their thought-leadership. Then they’ll be happy to spread their love for your brand with other potential customers on social networks.

At Apttus, we use Influitive’s AdvocateHub platform to make social media advocacy easy to manage and—most of all—fun.

From the onset of your program, you can set up nurture paths to encourage your customers to engage with you on social media—much like how you would move a prospective customer down the funnel.

  1. Start with the easy challenges like asking your advocates questions about their social media use through a quick and easy survey. For example, ask which platforms they like to use most. Then you can cater to your audience’s preferences.
  2. Get them engaged with your brand by having them like your company pages or follow your social media profiles.
  3. Start dropping in thought leadership posts for them to share as they move along the social media advocate nurture path—and make the benefit for them, not you. Allow them to be advocates for you, while they boost their own social media presence and grow to be thought leaders in their industry in your company’s space.
  4. Begin to drop in gated content for them to share to start acquiring leads from the content your advocates are sharing. Once they get to the point of sharing your top-of-funnel content, the real payoff kicks in. Use UTM parameters with each URL so you’re able to easily track leads from specific channels, campaigns and more in your CRM/marketing automation tool.

The key to motivating this behavior is to find ways to reward and recognize your advocates. It could be small perks and gifts, public thank yous or praise, or badges and points within your community. Anything that helps raise your advocates’ professional profiles will solidify your relationship with them.

Lastly (and the craziest part of this whole post) is that you’ll begin to see your advocates engage with your brand even more outside of social media. Once they feel like empowered thought leaders in your space, they will be be more comfortable doing things like reference calls with your prospective customers to help you close deals, or speak on your behalf at an event.

Now who says social media can’t be a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal?

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